This policy guide specifies the requirements and procedures for family reunification services for parents who are incarcerated, institutionalized, detained, or deported.
Table of Contents
This policy guide has been updated from the 07/01/14 version to include new protocols for family reunification efforts for parents who have an ongoing dependency case in California and have been detained by Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) per SB 1064.
Providing Services to Parents Detained by ICE
Per SB 1064, parents who have an ongoing dependency case in California and have been detained by ICE have services available to allow family reunification efforts to proceed.
- Parents can participate in custody proceedings by phone, teleconference or other electronic means.
- Each ICE field office will have a coordinator to serve as the point of contact for parental interest matters for social workers and child welfare court officials.
- An Online Detainee Locator System allows the public to locate persons in ICE detention.
- Parents detained by ICE can have visits with their children, caseworkers and attorneys.
Programs for Incarcerated Mothers
The following specialized programs are available for incarcerated mothers.
- The Pregnant and Parenting Women’s Alternative Sentencing Program, is a twelve (12) month residential program and twelve (12) month outpatient transitional services program available to women convicted of a non-violent, non-serious offense whose sentence does not succeed 36 months.The Community Prison Mother-Infant Program, offers counseling, nutrition classes, drug education, counseling, parenting classes, pre-natal care, continuing education, pre-employment training, family planning, group outings, and aerobic and weight training classes, through Department of Corrections facilities. It is available to mothers who:
- Have a history of substance abuse;
- Have a child less than 6 years of age or gave birth while incarcerated by the Department of Corrections;
- Have a probable release or parole date of no more than six years (after deducting good time credits), was the child’s primary caregiver prior to incarceration and have not been found an unfit parent in any court proceeding.
- The Incarcerated Parents Program (IPP) is available for incarcerated mothers int he Century Regional Detention Facility. The program will help ensure the mothers complete their court ordered programs, act as liaison between CSWand mother, supervise visits between mother and child and provide reports regarding the visits. CSWs can contact HSA Lizet Morales at (562) 497-3512 to refer mothers. The program is available to mother who:
- Have a child 0-21 years of age
- Have a current case with DCFS
- Do not have a restraining order granted from any court
Notification of Pending Release
In cases where the child and family are receiving Family Reunification services, DCFS has a statutory right to be notified that a parent, incarcerated for acts of domestic violence, child abuse or sexual molestation, is scheduled to be released on parole. DCFS also has the opportunity to submit written comments on where the parent will serve time on parole. This request for notification:
- Allows the CSW to help the child and family receiving FR services make plans to protect themselves.
- Provides information about the parent’s whereabouts for legal notification of future court dates and for permanency planning.
- Allows the CSW to obtain a modification of release to a more distant location if the parent’s physical proximity would pose a substantial risk to the child.
After receiving a request for notification of an inmate’s scheduled release, the parole authority must provide notice at least 60 days prior to the scheduled release date, after which DCFS may submit written comments up to 30 days prior to the release date. The parole authority must respond with their determination of whether to modify its decision no less than 15 days before the scheduled release date.
- In certain cases, an unanticipated change may cause notification to be sent to DCFS after the 60 day window, but never less than 24 hours after the final decision is made and never later than the day of the inmate’s release.
When a parent is incarcerated in a state prison, the California Rehabilitation Center, a county jail, or a Division of Juvenile facility, the court must issue a removal order for a parent to be released from the facility to attend court hearings for the following two purposes:
- The adjudication of their child as a dependent of the court
- A WIC 366.26 hearing to terminate their parental rights
The JV 450 form is used in all situations in which a parent incarcerated in a facility outside of Los Angeles County is ordered to appear for a dependency court hearing. If the parent is incarcerated in a facility within Los Angeles County, the is used to request a removal order.
For hearings where the incarcerated parent/guardian does not have a statutory right to appear, CSWs are still required to send notice to the parents of all appearance hearings, as well as copies of the court reports. If a parent wishes to attend a hearing other than the adjudicatory hearing or the WIC 366.26 hearing to terminate parental rights, the CSW is to notify the court of this preference and to direct the parent to contact their attorney. If the parent does not have an attorney, the CSW may submit a request for a removal order so that an attorney may be appointed.
Parents Detained by ICE
Parents detained by ICE can participate in custody proceedings by phone, teleconference or other electronic means.
Rights to Reunification Services
The incarceration, institutionalization, detention and/or deportation of a parent/guardian is not sufficient grounds for denying Family Reunification (FR) Services, except when the parent’s prison sentence exceeds 18 months or where the conviction is for a violent felony or for felony child abuse inflicted on the subject child or a sibling. FR Services must be offered unless the continuation of services is found to be detrimental to the child by the court based on an assessment of the following:
- Age of child
- Degree of parent-child bonding
- Length of Sentence
- Length and nature of treatment
- Nature of the crime or illness
- Degree of detriment to the child if services are not offered
- For children 10 and older, their attitude towards reunification services
- Likelihood of parent’s discharge within reunification time limitations
- Any other appropriate factors
Reunification time limitations:
- For children aged three (3) or older at the time of initial removal, services are to be provided from the dispositional hearing until the 366.21(f) hearing, unless the child is returned home.
- For children under the age of three (3), services are to be provided until the 366.21(e) hearing, unless the child is returned home.
If the CSW determines that it would not be appropriate to offer FR Services to the incarcerated/institutionalized parent, the reasons for this recommendation must be clearly stated in the Jurisdiction/Disposition Hearing report. Include the following in the assessment:
- Parental criminal lifestyle
- Multiple arrests
- Prior convictions and incarcerations
- History of violent behaviors
- Association with gangs
- Use and/or abuse of illegal drugs
- Failure to maintain or rehabilitate while on parole
- Removal and loss of custody of other children while incarcerated
- Outcome of prior dependency reunification services
Supporting documentation from the facility where the parent is incarcerated, institutionalized or detained must be attached to the court report.
Providing Services to Incarcerated Parent/Guardian
CSWs are required to provide reasonable services to an incarcerated parent and/or guardian. At a minimum, CSWs must:
- Inform the incarcerated parent of the service plan objectives and activities;
- Contact the facility and determine what programs are available and how the parent can enroll;
- Request a change in the parent/guardian’s prison housing if services are only available in a different portion of the facility;
- Inform the parent/guardian of the programs that are available and how to enroll;
- Maintain monthly contact with the parent/guardian and monitor his/her progress;
- Ensure visitation and contact is maintained as ordered;
- Upon request, provide the parent/guardian with literature on subjects related to the reunification plan, such as parenting or drug abuse
- Counsel the parent/guardian on his/her progress;
- Advise the parent/guardian to contact the CSW and enroll in DCFS-approved programs upon release from incarceration.
Parents/guardians who are incarcerated or institutionalized in a court-ordered residential substance abuse treatment program may receive up to 24 months of FR Services. The following circumstances must be considered and documented in the case plan for these individuals:
- Barriers preventing access to services;
- Ability to maintain contact with their child(ren);
- Good faith efforts made by the parent/guardian to maintain contact with the child (ren).
If DCFS becomes aware of a parent’s incarceration after reunification services are ordered, the parent has been convicted of a serious crime and will be incarcerated beyond the remaining months of the maximum reunification period, and reunification services would now be detrimental to the child, consider contacting County Counsel to request an order that family reunification services be terminated.
Case Plan & Visitation
All applicable requirements apply to families where one or both parents are incarcerated, institutionalized, detained by ICE, or deported. However, case plans for parents who are incarcerated or institutionalized must contain provisions for services, contact, and visitation while the parent/guardian is both in and out of custody.
Visitation with the parent/guardian is considered part of reunification services, and the parent/guardian must have contact with either the child or the caregiver if the child is too young. Failure to ensure that court ordered visitation takes place may result in extension of reunification services.
CSWs are to prepare the parent for the range of reactions a child may have, the child for what to expect during the visit, and the caregiver for any specific requirements that must be adhered to during the visit. Only where visitation would be detrimental to the child, with reasons clearly documented in the court report, may it be recommended that no visitation take place. Such reasons include:
- Parent was incarcerated for severe physical abuse upon a child.
- Prison is too far from placement, and the child’s young age makes travel difficult.
The court must make a finding of detriment before a parent/guardian can be denied visitation with his/her child. If the caregiver refuses to comply with court ordered visitation, county counsel is to be informed immediately.
- Upon discovering that a parent/legal guardian is incarcerated or institutionalized/detained, find the parent’s current location and obtain the name, mailing address and phone number of the institution where he/she is located. The following resources can assist:
If known or thought to be
California Department of Corrections & Rehabilitation at (916) 324-2203
In Federal custody
United States Bureau of Prison at (202) 307-3126
In State custody outside California
Detained by ICE
or call ICE Detention Reporting and Info Line at (888)351-4024
- Enter the incarcerated/detained parent’s address, including his/her prison identification number or detention identification number, in the Client Notebook.
- Contact the institution to determine the identity of the parent’s counselor, then contact the counselor to find out:
- Length of the parent’s sentence/hospitalization/detention.
- The types of services available at the institution and how the parent can sign up for those services.
- If the parent/guardian is eligible for specialized programs such as Mother-Infant Program or the Forever Free program.
- Any visitation or telephone restrictions.
- Document all contacts with the institution in the Service Providers Contact Notebook.
- Discuss the necessary case plan or court-ordered services with the parent’s counselor.
- If the services are available at the institution but only at another location, request a change of location for the parent or guardian in order to facilitate compliance with the court-ordered services.
- Contact the parent to instruct him/her to participate in the aforementioned services.
- Initial contact with the parent must be made by telephone and arranged by the counselor.
- If the parent is not reachable by phone, send a letter containing the following:
- Court-ordered case plan;
- Services available in the institution and how to enroll;
- Who to contact for visitation;
- A reminder to keep the CSW informed of an change in status or location;
- A reminder to contact the CSW immediately upon release in order to receive referrals to further services.
- Document all contacts with the parent, including efforts, in the Contact Notebook.
- Provide the parent with the following:
- The name, business address and phone number for you, your SCSW and the parent’s dependency attorney;
- Copies of the court report(s) and the reunification plan;
- Addresses and telephone numbers where the parent can contact his/her children, unless there is a court order restricting contact.
- Inform the parent of the following:
- That the CSW can be contacted through collect calls or letters and the best time to call;
- The need to send verification of completion of any programs or activities;
- That if the services available at the institution do not satisfy reunification requirements, the parent must contact the CSW immediately upon release to obtain referrals to community services;
- The number of months after the projected release date that the parent has to complete the case plan and that periods of incarceration/institutionalization/detention do not prolong the time allowed for completion;
- The visitation and/or telephone plan with his/her children.
- Obtain a signed release of information form from the parent. Send the original to the institution and file a copy in the case record.
- Maintain regular contact with the institution and request progress reports on the parent in writing.
- Assess and incorporate information provided by the institution into the case plan and court reports, and document any barriers to the parent’s access to court-mandated services and his/her ability to maintain contact with the child.
Requesting Notification of Release
Case-Carrying CSW Responsibilities
- If the parent is serving a prison term for a conviction of:
- Domestic violence, or
- Child abuse, or
- Any sex offense perpetrated against a minor
- Consult with County Counsel to determine that the conviction qualifies under the provisions of WIC 16507. If so, proceed as follows.
- Request that the Unit Clerk complete and submit the and provide him/her with the following information on the parent:
- Full Name
- CDC Number
- Date of Birth
- Date Sentenced
- Criminal Court Case Number
- County of Commitment
- File the completed CDRC 1707 in the Legal Folder.
- Upon receipt of notification that the parent is scheduled to be released, determine the proximity to the child and evaluate the degree of risk the release would pose to the child or family.
- Consult with the child and the other parent receiving FR services to ascertain their level of concern.
- If the inmate’s release does not compromise the safety of the family or child, note this in the Contact Notebook.
- If the inmate’s scheduled release is within close proximity to the child or family and would pose a substantial risk:
- Consult with the SCSW and County Counsel to determine if a request should be made to change the location of release.
- If so, request that the Unit Clerk complete Section A and C of a CDRC 1707 and attach a written comment, indicating within the Special Conditions of Parole the recommended proximity.
- If either the child or parent receiving FR services has indicated concern about the inmate’s release:
- Set up a CFT conference with concerned participants.
- Provide information on the scheduled place and date of release.
- Inform the parties of the steps that are being taken to modify the decision.
- If the case plan is changed from Family Reunification to Family Maintenance or Permanency Placement, or if jurisdiction is terminated, request that the Unit Clerk submit a revised CDRC 1707, to withdraw the request for notification.
- If either the child or immediate family member was a victim to the crime for which the inmate was convicted, inform them of their right to be notified of pending release and request that the Unit Clerk change the name and address of notification to the victim or family’s information and submit this.
- File completed copies of the CDRC 1707 in the Legal Folder.
- Document all contacts in the Contact Notebook.
- Contact the ICE field office to find the assigned deportation officer to locate where the parent was deported to and document his/her whereabouts.
- Los Angeles Field Office, 300 North Los Angeles St. Room 7631 Los Angeles, CA 90012
- Phone (213)830-7911
- Area of responsibility: Los Angeles Metropolitan Area and Central Coast
- Assistant Field Office Director Jorge Field, LosAngeles.Outreach@ice.dhs.gov
- Contact the parent to inform him/her of court proceedings. Have him/her contact the child welfare authorities in his/her their country of origin to identify any services that would comply with case plan requirements.
- If the parent requires assistance in contacting the child welfare authorities in his/her country, contact DCFS’s International Home Study Coordinator at (213) 743-8604 for assistance in contacting the country’s consulate.
- Document the parent’s participation with case plan requirements, using reports from local child welfare authorities on the parent’s living situation, progress and participation if available.
- Document any contacts with the consulate or the local child welfare agency in the Service Providers Contact Notebook.
- Assess and incorporate information provided by the consulate into the case plan and court reports, and document any barriers to the parent’s access to court-mandated services and his/her ability to maintain contact with the child.
- Send the parent/guardian all notices, court reports and case plans in a timely fashion.
Parents Detained by ICE
Search for the parent using the Online Detainee Locator System or contact the field points of contact for parental interests. You must have the person’s A-Number (nine-digit identification number assigned by immigration) or the first and last name and the country of birth.
- Los Angeles area and Central Coast: Jorge Field, (213)830-7908, Jorge.email@example.com
- Northern California: Craig Myer, (415)844-5690, firstname.lastname@example.org
- San Diego and Imperial County: Varion Espinoza, (619)710-8310, email@example.com
To arrange for the parent to participate in court hearings, notify the field point of contact by email ahead of time.
To arrange for visits, contact the facility the parent is housed at for rules and hours.
- Visitation hours are generally on weekends but check with the specific facility as accomodations can be made
- Call ahead to to set up a time
- Arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the visit for security screening and bring government issued ID
- Provide a copy of the court ordered parent-child visitations
DCFS 4217, Children's Social Worker's Report and Order for Removal of Prisoner from County Jail
JV 450, Order for Prisoner's Appearance at Hearing Affecting
Prisoner's Parental Rights
CDRC 1707, Request for Victim Services and Restitution Collection
DCFS 4217, Children's Social Worker's Report and Order for Removal of Prisoner from County Jail
JV 450, Order for Prisoner's Appearance at Hearing Affecting
Prisoner's Parental Rights
Referenced Policy Guides
0080-502.10, Case Plans
California Department of Social Services (CDSS) Manual of Policies and Procedures (MPP) Division Section 31 325.31 – States that if the parent(s)/guardian(s) is/are not available for monthly visits, the social worker shall maintain monthly written or telephone contact with him/her regarding the child's status and the parent(s)/guardian(s) actions that should be occurring in order to facilitate reunification.
Edgar O. v. Los Angeles County Superior Court (2000) 84 Cal.App.4th 13 – Decided that the term "incarcerated" is not restricted to those inmates that were "sentenced" or "convicted." And that it also includes those inmates that are awaiting trial, thus making WIC 361.5(e) (1) applicable to incarcerated parents awaiting trial.
Welfare and Institutions Code (WIC) Section 361.5(a)(2)(3) – Addresses child welfare services; reunification of family; hearings, findings by court, incarcerated parents.
WIC Section 361.5(e)(1)(2) & (3) – Addresses extending time limits for family reunification services for incarcerated parents and provides a description of services that facilitate reunification.
WIC Section 362.1 – Addresses visitation as a means to maintain family ties, parents, guardians, and siblings.
WIC Section 362.6 – Details legal requirements regarding requests for a hearing to determine whether visitation between a child victim and an incarcerated person should be allowed.
WIC Section 366.22 – Addresses Permanency Review Hearing; return of child to parent or guardian; additional Reunification Services taking into consideration the particular barriers of incarcerated or institutionalized parent or legal guardian.
WIC Section 16501(h) – Defines Family Reunification Services as activities designed to provide time-limited foster care services to prevent or remedy neglect, abuse, or exploitation, when the child cannot safely remain at home, and needs temporary foster care, while services are provided to reunite the family.
WIC Section 16501.1 – Contains standards and guidelines on Case Plan requirements, including services for the purpose of maintaining the child’s significant relationships.
WIC Section 16507 – Includes child welfare agencies on the list of entities having the right to be notified when and where a parent who is serving time in state prison for child abuse, sexual molestation or domestic violence is scheduled to be released on parole or following the revocation of parole.
WIC Section 16508.1(6) – Describes circumstances under which a WIC 366.26 Termination of Parental Rights recommendation need not be made regarding an incarcerated or institutionalized parent.
Penal Code Section (PEN) 2625 – Provides information regarding actions affecting prisoner’s parental or marital rights; dependency guardianship; notice; order for appearance.
PEN 3058.65 – Specifies that before a person confined for a conviction of child abuse, sex offense against a minor or domestic violence is released on parole or revocation of parole, the immediate family – that is, the parents, siblings and/or spouse – of the parolee and the county’s child welfare services agency, are entitled to notice at last 60 days prior to the scheduled release date.